Saturday, October 27, 2007

Simultaneous Submissions - Or, can you do two things at once?

Are simultaneous submissions OK?

Here I venture into an area already covered by thousands of scribes.

Is it OK to submit the same manuscript to several publishers at once?

The answer is yes, no, sometimes, and well, it depends.

The latest discussion I've read on the subject was one of the sanest. It boils down to this: When submitting a manuscript, follow the publisher's rules, use common sense, common courtesy, and good communication skills!

Recently, when I submitted to a small publishing house, I intended my manuscript be for that house only - for a while. But, I failed to say so in my cover letter. (Whoops.)

So, a couple of weeks after sending the ms, I followed up with a letter to the editor stating (a little more professionally than this, I hope), "this is for your eyes only - until the week of Thanksgiving. If you want more time to "digest" the submission, let me know."

See, there are oodles of publishers and billions of oodles of writers out there. And that's just taking into account the good ones ;) Everyone has their own rules.

Some houses will consider ONLY exclusive submissions; others are cool with knowing their transom is just one of many a manuscript may cross - on the same day.

Some writers (I suppose) are content to wait for a response from one house before moving on to another house. I'm not. But common sense must prevail.

In the case I described above, there were extenuating circumstances. Let's face it; there always are. That's why common sense, good manners, and clear communication is critical in the writing/publishing game.

In my case, I think I did a good job selecting a publisher where my manuscript would "fit." I had queried long ago, and received a note of interest - so I felt I "owed" the publisher a period of time to review the manuscript in its entirety without feeling I'd offered the (fabulous) idea to another house.

And of course, I think it's really fabulous. I can't wait to see the thing in print. On bestsellers' lists, even. So, while I'm content to wait (about six weeks) for a reply, I'm not going to wait around forever.

After all, there are readers waiting to hear from me, right?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Newsletters, Sales Letters, and lots of letters

Seriously, it's a job.

When I meet someone, whether at a party or a PTO meeting, it seems the "what-do-you-do" question always comes up. And when I answer, "I'm a freelance writer," reactions vary.

The most common one is "Oh, really?" which I think means, 'Ah, so you're unemployed.'

Well, hardly. I'm much busier than I want to be. I'm not complaining, I'm explaining. When I hung out my shingle as a freelance writer more than ten years ago, I hoped I could build it into a "nice little part time job" on a schedule that would allow me to spend a lot of time with my kids. I wasn't too picky about the type of work I'd do. From newsletters and sales letters to editing some pretty dry manuals, it was all fair game.

Turns out, a lot of businesses need someone who can, and will, watch their p's and q's - and other letters - and who can meet deadlines, too.

Turns out, growing the business wasn't the hard part. Managing it on my kids' schedule is a much greater challenge. But I'm up to it.

Want to hire a writer, or get a better idea of what freelance business writers do? Visit my work website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Imagination is Where It's At

For the past few weeks I've been writing sales letters, newsletter articles about very dry subjects, and retyping a lot of press releases. Such is the exciting life of a writer-for-hire.

But like a lot of things, creativity comes in spurts. The most creative periods in my life so far have been (1) while I was in the messy middle of a divorce, and (2) while I was pregnant with my son. (The pregnancy was pretty hard, but I'd still pick it over the divorce.)

I should learn from this, shouldn't I? Apparently, I'm most creative when I'm completely unsettled.

Maybe I should quit my job and move to Alaska or Timbuktu. Or take up skydiving.

I'm not bored; I may have to look up "bored" in a dictionary to remember what that word means. But, I am in a groove... these days, the groove is filled with a lot of press releases and newsletters. I know surprises tend to find us when we're in a groove, and surprises of all kinds seem to lead straight to creative bursts of energy. On that note, I'm ready for another day. And I'll be on the lookout for surprises. I hope a few nice ones come your way...